College Football Picks: Take Arizona State to Cover ATS vs. Arizona

Willie Bee

Thursday, November 19, 2015 1:27 AM GMT

Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015 1:27 AM GMT

The Territorial Cup is on the line Saturday in Tempe where Arizona State hosts Arizona in a game still being held up on the college football odds board due to injuries.

It's still difficult to believe that the Houston Cougars and North Carolina Tar Heels have better shots at the College Football Playoffs than any team from the Pac-12, but that's the way things stack up presently. Suffice to say, it's been a disappointing season for the conference that's only saving grace to have even one entry in the New Year's Six is its affiliation and tie-in to the Rose Bowl.

Two of the conference's most disappointing teams square off this Saturday in Tempe where the Arizona Wildcats visit the Arizona State Sun Devils. Both were picked to give USC and UCLA their best competition in the Pac-12 South, but instead head into the 3:30 PM (ET) boot at Sun Devil Stadium either barely bowl eligible or still scratching to become bowl eligible.

The contest didn't make the first release of college football odds due to an injury to Wildcats quarterback Anu Solomon, whose status is still up in the air due to a concussion. Pinnacle originally hung a -6 spread in Arizona, but has since removed it from the board with no total for the game available anywhere.

It's the 89th meeting between the I-10 rivals who sit less than two hours apart by car, depending on the traffic. The Wildcats own a 49-38-1 lead in the series that dates back to the Great Depression when both schools called the old defunct Border Conference home. Arizona stopped a 2-game slide in the Territorial Cup clash a year ago with a 42-35 decision in a game that lived up to the hype. The final marked the third consecutive 'over' between the squads.

 

Injuries Galore For The Wildcats
Arizona (6-5 straight up & against the spread) was forced to play a game earlier this year without Solomon because of another blow to the head suffered in a blowout loss to UCLA, and it wasn't pretty. Backup Jerrard Randall took Solomon's place the next week and while he didn't have a horrible game (15-28, 178 yards, 1 TD), the end result was a 55-17 shellacking at the hands of Stanford.

Solomon isn't the only injury that head coach Rich Rodriguez is having to deal with. Whoever is under center for the Wildcats could have two backup guards providing protection for them as Freddie Tagaloa (knee) and Jacob Alsadek (concussion) are listed as questionable. Arizona also lost starting linebacker Jake Matthews for the season after the junior broke a foot in last week's upset win vs. Utah.

The 'Cats were in the throes of a 3-game losing skid when they welcomed Utah to Tucson as 5 point chalk, Arizona coming away with a 37-30 triumph in double overtime. Randall came into that contest late when Solomon went down and managed to complete just one of five pass attempts. It was a crucial connection, however, since it went for a decisive touchdown on the first play of the second OT.

 

ASU Halts 3-Game Slide With Rally vs. Huskies
Like the Wildcats, Arizona State (5-5 SU, 3-7 ATS) is also coming off a victory that halted a 3-game slide. Favored by 2½ at home vs. Washington, the Sun Devils rallied from a 17-point deficit in the first half to pull off a 27-17 victory thanks in large part to four Husky turnovers.

Also like Arizona, head coach Todd Graham and ASU are limping into this game banged up, especially on the defensive side. The Sun Devils are expected to be without starting safety Armand Perry once again due to a bum ankle, while linebackers Antonio Longino and Nick Ralston are both questionable. Perry's backup at free safety, Kareem Orr, is probable with a knee sprain, as is outside linebacker Salamo Fiso, the team's 2nd-leading tackler.

It's going to be warm and sunny in Tempe for the clash, temps climbing into the low-80s during the contest and a light NE breeze. Without Solomon, the Sun Devils should be short favorites and I like them under that scenario for my free college football pick.

College Football Picks: Lean Arizona State -6 at Pinnacle

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